Masoka Dube

By Masoka Dube

Journalist


Family given run-around over mine blasting damages

Mine’s blasting allegedly caused homes to crumble.


A family whose Mpumalanga houses were allegedly damaged by blasting at the Mafube mine has accused the department of mineral resources and energy (DMRE) of being reluctant to release the investigative report on the matter.

The Mahlangu family, which is based on the Nooitgedacht Farm in Middelburg, have alleged that since 2021, their houses have been cracking and collapsing when Mafube mine conducts its mining activities, especially when it is blasting.

Family spokesperson Themba Mahlangu said on 5 April, officials from the DMRE came to conduct an investigation and promised they would release a report after 30 days.

The report has not been released and the mine has continued blasting. “Yes, the investigation was conducted to see if our allegations are true.

They conducted a blasting test in which some parts of our houses collapsed immediately while everyone was present,” said Mahlangu.

“One of the officials stopped the exercise and said they would give us a report on 5 May, so we can start negotiating on how to deal with the matter.

“Since then, no-one contacted us or e-mailed us the outcome of the investigation.

“The agreement was that if they found the blasting indeed affected the houses, the miner should compensate us so we could relocate, or they could assist with the relocation process.

“When we realised they disappeared, I started to follow up by telephoning them but they did not give me straight answers.

“On several occasions, I went to the department’s regional offices in Emalahleni, but they told me the people I was looking for were not available.”

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Lack of response and further allegations

Mahlangu said he texted the senior investigator and the DMRE senior official, but they did not give him straight answers and blocked his phone number.

Mahlangu showed The Citizen one of the WhatsApp messages to the department’s senior officials.

“I am currently out of the office attending a fatal inquiry at Sasol,” one senior manager responded before blocking Mahlangu.

“I will follow up with the office and check if the seniors have signed.”

Mahlangu also showed a letter he wrote to the department, demanding the release of the report.

“I am writing to follow up on the complaint I submitted to you. You said you would advise in 30 days of the outcome of the investigation. To this day nothing has been said regarding our case,” the letter read.

He has accused the mine’s management of failing to assist his family, although other families were relocated before mining commenced in the area.

In a previous interview, Mafube’s representative Bontle Mfolo denied Mahlangu’s allegations.

“After a structural engineer inspected the house we found the blasting activities had no impact on the Mahlangu home,” she said.

DMRE spokesperson Ernest Mulibana said: “The DMRE can confirm it has received the above complaint from Mr Themba on behalf of the affected communities and we are still processing this matter. We will respond to the complainant once we have finalised our processes.”

Another family from the same farm has opened a case against Mafube for allegedly exhuming their relatives’ graves without consent.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Colonel Donald Mdluli has confirmed a case involving graves and malicious property damage was registered and the matter was being investigated.

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